Earlier this week, 823 of the city’s 4 year olds – about 70 percent – went from half day to full-day pre-kindergarten. The expansion of the city’s pre-K program was made possible by a $5.9 million state grant.
At a press event earlier today, more than a dozen school, government, and community leaders urged more parents to enroll their 4 year olds in pre-K. And they stressed the importance of Rochester’s full-day program in improving student outcomes over the long term.
Research shows that children in full-day pre-K are less likely to fall behind, need special services, have mental-health problems, or become teen parents. And they're more likely to receive proper health care, said Dr. Jeff Kaczorowski, president of the Children’s Agenda, at the press conference.
Pre-K has been offered to city children through a combination of city schools and community organizations, though most city schools only offered half-day programs until recently. The full-day programs will provide children with breakfast and lunch, pre-reading and math skills, computer and educational games, music, and art.
Governor Andrew Cuomo has proposed allocating $1.5 billion over five years to expand pre-K statewide. The funds will be available to those school districts that apply for them, said Assembly Majority Leader Joe Morelle, and not on a competitive basis.
Critics of the governor’s plan to expand pre-K argue that the program is not well-conceived, and that the funding is not sustainable.
“The governor has said, ‘If we need more money, more money will be made available,’” Morelle said in response.